Liberty of the Seas - Catacombs News sources are reporting that a passenger died aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship this morning after falling down a staircase. 

Massachusetts resident, Barbara Wood, age 47, reportedly was leaving the Catacombs nightclub aboard Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas at about 1:48 a.m. when she fell on the stairs and struck her head, according to a statement by the Broward County Sheriff’s office. 

Ms. Wood was taken to the ship’s infirmary where she was pronounced dead at 2:50 a.m., according to the Sheriff’s office.  Sheriff’s deputies met the cruise ship when it docked at 5 a.m. at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. 

The Royal Caribbean PR spokesperson stated that the company would not speculate on what caused the accident. 

It should be noted that there should be closed circuit television (CCTV) maintained by the cruise line which should have captured the accident and should reveal exactly what happened.  It is less than clear where the accident occurred although the stairs around this club are extremely decorative. 

Any time an accident occurs late at night and near a nightclub, there is speculation that alcohol may have been involved.  This is nothing new.  Alcohol sales are a fundamental part of the cruise Liberty of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship - Catacombs experience, and alcohol is often pushed by the cruise lines. 

Royal Caribbean has undoubtedly already carefully reviewed this passenger’s onboard purchases and determined exactly how many alcoholic beverages, if any, she purchased last night.  The cruise line will also have reviewed the CCTV images and interviewed those at the scene of the accident.  

To the extent that alcohol played any part in the accident, the maritime law regarding the liability of cruise lines is well settled.  In Hall v. Royal Caribbean, a passenger "was injured on the high seas when, after having been served alcohol by the vessel’s employees to and obviously past the point of intoxication, he staggered from a lounge, and while unable to look after himself fell down two flights of open stairways." 

The appellate court reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the case, finding that the dismissal "must be reversed because the complaint clearly stated a cause of action for breach of the defendant’s duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its passengers."  

If you were on the cruise and have additional information to add, please leave a comment below.

February 4, 2012 Update:

This is not the first serious accident on the Liberty of the Seas involving the Catacombs stairwells: When Will Royal Caribbean Replace the Dangerous Stairs in the Catacombs Lounge on the Liberty of the Seas?


Photo credit:  Bottom photo – skinnie minnie / Flickr page

  • Fabian

    “safety is our business ” for sure …we “trust” Royal Caribbean marketing Mr Goldstein…

  • Kylee

    I was on the cruise..and at the scene.

    I was in the club..and those stairs, are EXTREMELY Dangerous. Even from the picture you can see that they have little to no tread and no skid protection. Mix that with heels, lack of bright lighting, drinking, and possible spillage..and you have a recipe for disaster. I can not speculate on how or why she I did not see it, and that would be irresponsible. However, I do strongly feel that Royal Caribbean, does need to implement safety measures on those steps to insure that they are as safe as they can be.

    I would also like to wish my condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Mrs. Wood.

  • I was also on this cruise at this time and the evening before I had been at this club and was really nervous taking these steps as I had a couple glasses of wine. They are incredibly dangerous!!!

  • Joyce Menyasz

    I was also partying in that club on Friday night. I said to my friends not to let me go up or down those stairs by myself as I had been drinking and they looked dangerous and slippery. Pretty? Yes – but dangerous. Also, where is the corporate responsibility for alcohol consumption? Doesn’t SMART SERVE follow on cruise ships? The decks on that ship are also very very slippery.

  • sandra hanna

    I was also on this cruise , and was at the bar the night she passed away:( those stairs are so dangerous, why would they have stairs like this at a bar?????? while drinking is going on etc! No traction, no carpet, Nothing… heart goes out to the family…god bless her soul

  • Chris Brown

    First, it was unfortunate that someone lost their life aboard the ship while vacationing.

    Second, based on the pictures, those stairs do not appear to have good tread on them, but I’m sure that is for the sake of design and appeal versus safety. RCI is the only entity that can address what to do about that.

    Last, I am no longer surprised how often people try to cast the blame onto others regarding the possibility of someone’s own personal neglect to monitor their own drinking. RCI requires passengers departing from the U.S be of the legal drinking age (21). The idea is that a grown adult is capable of making sound judgment to limit themselves. Adults need to take responsibility for their own actions. RCI do not funnel and force down the alcohol served to any individual. So the corporate responsibility for alcohol consumption is to ensure minors are not drinking. Unless someone is belligerent and clearly unable to speak or stand, it is a judgment call whether or not a patron is beyond their limits; considering everyone’s limits are different.